We get many emails asking for information about diets for Meniere's
Disease and what foods to avoid. Many people, probably most people, would be willing to change
their lifestyle if it would help them to avoid their very unpleasant
Meniere's disease symptoms. Every day we are told by someone that they
are on a low salt diet, antihistamines and diuretics. Many times, we are
also told these don't do anything to help that person.
really wanted to understand what the main medical sites tell people
about Meniere's disease diets and why they make the recommendations they
do. I started with Mayo Clinic, Johns Hopkins Hospital, House Ear
Clinic, Shea Ear clinic, National Institute on Deafness and Other
http://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/hearing/Pages/sudden.aspx and the
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
http://newsinhealth.nih.gov/issue/aug2012/feature1 for specific
Meniere's disease diet advice.
The sites I used are strictly from an interest point of view. I
simply Googled a term and found lots of sites worth exploring. I suggest
you do the same, but please use some common sense. Don't just believe
everything you read about Meniere's disease.
I tried to avoid sites with advertising, but few such sites exist. So
be aware of what they offer as far as information is concerned. The very
best thing to do is to have a healthy body and keep it that way. These
are two of my favorite sites: American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head
and Neck Surgery.
Basically people who have Meniere's Disease, are told the following:
use a low salt diet, go on a diuretic, avoid caffeine and alcohol, and
take an antihistamine such as SERC and Betahistine. Sometimes they are
cautioned about MSG, sugars, and chocolate. These are the conventional
treatment plans everyone is prescribed for their
Meniere's disease symptoms.
Three major underlying facts to keep in mind as you read on:
- The “food” idea seems to support the concept that “you are what
you eat”. So it seems to matter what you put into your body.
- Your body “has a mind of its own”. It has a built-in mechanism
to protect you: its major protective measure is your immune system.
And one part of this is the inflammatory process. Maybe what we put
ONTO our bodies matters as well. It is my intention to make you
aware of how your body works. None of what I share is medical
advice. Everything can be checked in anatomy and physiology
- The idea or concept of “cause and effect” is a scientific fact.
You can use it. You can ignore it. You can rail against it. It won't
change anything. It still exists. So you may want to learn how to
use this to benefit yourself. It is VERY apparent all through this
What follows here is a snapshot of ideas. Because of copyright laws,
I can only share the links and the facility names of my searches for
Meniere's disease information. But I do want you to check out what you
are told by your Doctors. Then ask yourself how does apply to you,
Every site I checked out mentioned Meniere's Disease. So they saw it
as a “disease”. Many said there was no cure, but some sites offered ways
to avoid the symptoms. Some called their recommendations “diets”: others
offered “diet strategies”.
It is my strong feeling that as you explore this Meniere's disease
diet concept in greater detail and compare recommendations, you will get
a hint of what your medical practitioner is trying to accomplish. Why do
you want to know this? Because it gives you something to aim for and
maybe control the debilitating symptoms. After all, you did seek
professional help. But again, evaluate how it applies to you. These
generalities may not be required in your own situation.
Why DO you have these balance and/or hearing symptoms? You have two
nerves, the balance or vestibular nerve, and the hearing or acoustic or
auditory nerve. When everything is fine, they are quiet and doing their
job. It is only when they are bothered or affected by “something”, that
they react and give off symptoms/feelings. And these symptoms reflect
your balance and hearing “health”. You could easily be experiencing
symptoms in other parts of your body, but not be aware of it.
Keep this in mind as we go along, your Meniere's disease symptoms can
be connected to your diet. Your body constantly rebalances itself. It
thrives in and strives for homeostasis. Every single cell, tissue,
organ, etc. functions best in this perfect environment. There are some
chemicals called electrolytes to help regulate this balance. So the
underlying goal is not to have this balance skewed, otherwise the body
finds ways to adjust its needs.
Salt and sodium are parts of
this electrolyte “system”.
This is a great site to learn more. Another major component is the
electrolyte called potassium. Often these are part of the treatment plan
when diuretics are prescribed.
So fluid management is crucial to your health. This brings up a very
important point, but it may create a bit of confusion. We are used to
talking about a “low salt diet”. What we are really aiming for is a diet
where sodium and potassium and other electrolytes are balanced. As this
is a pretty tricky balancing act requiring a lot of “other” knowledge,
you are told to cut back on salt. Hence the “low salt diet”.
If you really understand that your entire body is interconnected and
interactive (just like your computer), you will appreciate how fluid
moves from your toes to head including the inner ear and in reverse
constantly. Allergies are a really good example of all of this.
A food you are allergic to produces a reaction. The reaction causes
inflammation which is excess fluid (inflammatory
reaction). What do all allergies have in common? Are they not all
fluid related? Runny nose, sneezing, itchiness, rashes? Asthma
(respiratory allergies) is a reaction to something which is “sitting” in
the lungs, setting off fluid.
While diuretics are constantly prescribed for Meniere's Disease
sufferers, there is however a downside to them. They also lower blood
pressure. In fact they are seen as the better way to lower blood
So now you have less blood circulating throughout your body, carrying
fewer essential nutrients, oxygen and other vital healing elements,
especially to the brain. Low
blood pressure shows up as dizziness. If
you are any, do check them out for side effects.
What does all this have to do with foods? We tend to think of diets
as related to foods. Here the advice suggests what to avoid, but in
every instance, more than just foods were advised. I'll attempt to
suggest the reason for it. But most of all, I want YOU to really do some
searching. Use your own common sense before you jump to any conclusions.
Every single body reacts differently. Yours may be fine with many of
these items. Just explore the advice.
Please understand that I am trying to figure out why doctors give you
certain recommendations and what they might be based on. This is common
sense: not medical advice. I find when you know why something is being
done, it's much easier to accept the process and maybe contribute your
own initiatives, such as doing more “good things” and avoiding the “not
so helpful” things.
Here are the ones I saw over and over.
Sugar: We love sweet things! So we eat lots of them. Personally I
think it's better to have a small amount of sugar and not take any
artificial sweeteners. The artificial ones are chemicals. Study their
side effects. There are many sites to show how these chemicals affect
your body. Before you agree to avoid it and substitute it, check it out.
Why is this so? For some reason these main medical sites do not update
as new knowledge is uncovered, tried, and found to be helpful. This is a
good comprehensive site for sweeteners.
Honey is another sweetener. We also know it has many healing
Alcohol is a favorite “target”. It is seen as changing the fluid
balance. It is also a known depressant. We know red wines are
problematic for SOME people, but not every Meniere's disease sufferer.
Chocolate is seen as a stimulant, but we now know it's a good
antioxidant if you use top quality dark chocolate.
Coffee is seen as a stimulant, yet again, we hear it's a good
antioxidant if it is good quality coffee. The decaffeination process is
seen as being much more of a problem as it is a chemical process.
Nicotine decreases the blood supply and is “chemicals reacting”.
Antacids offer a significant amount of sodium.
Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), in the literature are
seen as causing water retention. This can lead to electrolyte imbalance.
(Here I want to show you a bit of irony. An anti-inflammatory is meant
to draw OFF fluid, yet these drugs RETAIN fluids, attracting it. This is
why I encourage you to really understand what your drugs do. Common
sense has to prevail.)
Aspirin is listed as increasing tinnitus. In the same site
Medicine.net site as just above, it too is seen as a NSAIDs.
Monosodium glutamate better known as MSG is seen as causing a lot of
allergies, and is suspect because it is a type of sodium. That can
contribute to fluid retention. There are many interesting sites to learn
about this additive. Here is one.
Low salt diets are seen as avoiding salt and thus fluid buildup, but
many people suffer from low blood pressure, which can also cause
dizziness. The next obvious question then has to be “how much is too
much salt”? It has been suggested that 1500 mgms/day is adequate, but do
more research for yourself. I think the “one size fits all”
recommendation doesn't take into account other factors, such as exercise
and water intake.
This subject has to include medical monitoring of electrolytes and
potassium. If you are on a diuretic, do your own searching for a comfort
level that suits you. Look up terms like hyponatremia and hyperkalemia.
This is my favourite site I send everyone to. MedlinePlus
I want to mention gluten-free diets, celiac diets, and lactose
intolerance. We get a lot of comments about these. If you look carefully
at each one, you again see a treatment process.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gluten-free_diet Most likely this would
be a treatment against inflammation (the body's natural and automatic
warning system). So the suggestion is that if you avoid these foods or
recognize this condition, you may not suffer these symptoms.
Once again “food” or its avoidance is seen as a treatment. To learn
more about this, check out this site and then really explore each
individual condition. I thought of including some of the foods that
containing gluten but the list is so long, that it's best for you to do
this on your own. You could start here.
All in all, there really isn‘t a lot to talk about regarding diets
for Meniere's disease. It seems to come down to what to avoid and what
to do more of. I think most of it was a collection of ordinary foods
someone has deemed to be harmful:
Lately we are hearing a lot about gluten free diets for Meniere's
Disease. Could it be that “something” is setting off “something” that is
causing inflammation (most often fluid) which in turn increases the
pressure on the balance and hearing nerves? (One or both?) I am just
One of the side benefits of all my investigating is that you really
become aware of what you eat. And what you put onto your body. And how
it is influenced by everything. This leads to healthy skepticism and
more research and a lot more understanding. Know you always have the
power of a choice and the more you know, the better the choices.
So let me end with this idea. If you can avoid the “bad foods” and
avoid whatever someone has told you to avoid, do you still have a
disease? Meniere's Disease? How could you tell if you do not have any
more symptoms? Are these balance and hearing symptoms not the major
basis of the “Meniere's Disease” diagnosis?
Learn to understand the mechanics of the fluid actions of your body.
Know how it can create symptoms when it impacts a nerve, any nerve, but
most uncomfortably the balance and hearing nerves in your case.
My conclusion: Clearly having spent many hours exploring the many
different options for Meniere's Disease diets, I would encourage you to
ask for clarification when you are given this recommendation. I can't
see a “diet”. I can see avoidances.
Strangely, I rarely saw any reference to eating to promote a healthy
lifestyle. You may also want to look at our observations email for more
ideas of possible cause for your Meniere's disease symptoms. I would be
happy to email you a copy. These are items other sufferers have shared
with us. Once they dealt with them, they were much better.
I hope you have learned a few ways to understand how your body
functions and tries to keep you healthy. Keep these two sites in your
main medical lookup folder for ongoing research: they seem to have the
most current information.
By Karin Henderson - Nurse, Retired.